‘One morning you would open the paper … and read, Return of Parnell’: Rumours, Legends, and Conspiracy Narratives about Charles Stewart Parnell’s Staged Death.

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Abstract

This article is the first to reconstruct the contemporary legend that Charles Stewart Parnell staged his own death in 1891, pending his messianic return. Although the British press folklorised it as a premodern Irish ‘peasant’ delusion, this article demonstrates that the story was one of several pseudocidal narratives about ‘great men’ shaped by the British ‘cult of Napoleon’. The legend did circulate in Ireland; but among city-dwelling Dubliners not ‘peasants’. This article argues that for some urban Parnellites it functioned as a mode of political resistance; for most Irish people, doubt and uncertainty, rather than wholehearted belief, characterised its reception.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
JournalHistorical Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 May 2024

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